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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: USDA-ARS Research and Development for Sustainable Dryland Agriculture.

Authors
item Rao, Srinivas
item Mayeux Jr, Herman
item Dedrick, Allen

Submitted to: American Society of Agronomy Special Publication
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: July 31, 2003
Publication Date: January 1, 2004
Citation: Rao, S.C., Mayeux Jr, H.S., Dedrick, A.R. 2004. USDA-ARS research and development for sustainable dryland agriculture. In: Rao, S.C.. Ryan, J., editors. Challenges and Strategies of Dryland Agriculture. American Society of Agronomy Special Publication No. 32. Chapter 3, pp. 25-34.

Interpretive Summary: The world' population more than doubled in the last of the century and reached 6 billion in 1999. World population will grow from 6 billion to 9.3 billion by 2050. In order to accommodate near 10 billion people world will have to double its food production over current levels. Most of the increase in agriculture production in the last decade was mainly in irrigated lands. The extent of irrigated cropland is declining because water resources are being depleted in many regions of USA, pumping costs are increasing as energy costs rise, while the value of agricultural products has not risen. Consequently, producers are increasingly switching back to dryland production in those areas where rainfall amounts and patterns permit. Advances in plant genetics, agronomic conservation technologies, and short duration crops tolerant to drought provide the greatest opportunities to achieve sustainability and profitability in dryland agriculture in the USA.

Technical Abstract: Continued or enhanced competition for water and rising costs of irrigation underscore predictions that additional food required by a growing population must be provided in large part by more efficient and productive drylands. Much progress was made in the last century by USDA-ARS and its partners in improving water conservation, water use efficiency, and the productivity of dryland crops. Conservation tillage with surface residue cover enhances water infiltration, reduces evaporation, and protects soils from erosion. New crop cultivars with short statures, deep and extensive root systems, and reduced growing seasons will play an important role in avoiding drought. New technologies such as remote sensing of soil water content and long-term weather outlooks present a number of opportunities for reducing risks in dryland agriculture. Advances in biotechnology have only begun to provide novel approaches to the development of drought-tolerant agricultural crops. These and other technologies continue to provide opportunities to achieve efficiency and profitability in dryland agriculture, and will continue to be the focus of the USDA-ARS research program.

Last Modified: 4/17/2014
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